Digital hacks

5 Best Sites and Apps to Learn the Guitar

The guitar is one of the most versatile and satisfying instruments to play, but learning to master this popular instrument can be an uphill battle. 

Getting good quality instruction and having constructive practice are both crucial to becoming competent. The good news is that it’s never been easier to get access to quality guitar lessons and information online. 

Some of these resources are free and some will cost a few dollars, but it’s all available from the comfort of your own home. We’ve narrowed down the list to 5 sites and apps to learn to play the guitar and become a guitar god. So get ready to rock. 

Yousician

Yousician is one of the most advanced digital music teaching platforms available. The apps are highly automated and can provide feedback on personal progress by listening to you play over the microphone.

Yousician is a very structured experience, with carefully designed curricula. It’s also notable that you don’t just get guitar lessons. It also covers piano, bass, ukulele and vocals. Plenty of guitarists also want to learn the bass or how to sing. From that point of view, Yousician offers an amazing deal. If you’re only interested in one instrument, however, you can choose such a plan and save some money.

The selection of songs that you can learn is respectable, coming in at around 1500 titles. Though that number also seems to include lessons and exercises going by the wording on the site.

There’s no option to get direct human help, but there’s also an argument to be made for pure computer-driven teaching where you set the pace. It’s also available to use on iOS and Android, as well as a native desktop application.

You can get full access for seven days as a trial. If you’re still not sure, you can take up to 10 minutes of free lessons every day for non-paying users. For someone doing a bit of casual practice, those 10 minutes are still pretty valuable.

GuitarTricks

GuitarTricks is laser-focused on getting you to learn to play the guitar and start playing the songs you love as quickly as possible. There are more than 1000 songs included in their library in a range of genres and styles.

You don’t have to pay right out of the gate. There’s a basic access level that includes 24 free guitar lessons that will give you a clear idea of the quality and instructional style of the site. The full access membership promises 11,000 of these video lessons.

There’s material for complete beginners and advanced players. Their “Artist Studies” are aimed at polishing expert players with much more in-depth material. You can pay a monthly subscription, but paying for a year upfront will save you 25%. There are a few bonus goodies thrown in for annual subscribers.

Ultimate Guitar

Ultimate Guitar isn’t specifically a lesson site. As the name suggests, it really tries to be all things to everyone. The Ultimate Guitar suite of apps offer everything from virtual amplifiers to official interactive song tabs. For a monthly fee of course.

There’s plenty of free content, with many lesson articles published on the main site with a high level of frequency. It’s not a slick guided course site, but it’s worth going through the lessons archive while checking in for new ones regularly. 

JamPlay

The main attraction of JamPlay is its variety of courses on offer. There are over 450 courses taught by more than 100 guitar teachers. You have two payment options to access this content. Either pay for specific courses outright or get to use them all by paying a membership fee. If you buy a course outright, you can download it and watch the content offline. 

There are three membership tiers, with higher tiers offering one-on-one consultation, additional tools and various other perks. The basic paid subscription unlocks the mobile apps and the core library of content.

JamPlay is quite possibly one of the most comprehensive online guitar teaching sites we’ve ever seen. Compared to the price of lessons with a local guitar teacher, it’s more than a bargain.

YouTube

You’ll find many people on YouTube with immense amounts of talent both for playing and teaching the guitar. If you put some time into sampling the best YouTube guitar channels, you can probably piece together a real masterclass course from the various offerings YouTube has.

Many of the freely available lessons on YouTube are actually from some of the paid services mentioned above and acts as advertising for those products. However, if you’re just looking to learn to play the guitar using specific pro tips and not an entire course, these sorts of videos are perfect.

While it’s best to go exploring the guitar treasures of YouTube yourself, here are a few great examples to get you started:

  • JustinGuitar: Great YouTube lessons, though plenty of promotion for justinguitar.com.
  • Fender: Plenty of great individual lessons mixed in with advertisements for Fender gear. A taster for the paid Fender Play platform.
  • ArtistWorks: Fantastic tips, techniques and lessons from some of the best guitarists in the world. 

Then there are amazing artists who don’t teach directly. By simply watching their videos you’ll be inspired and learn vicariously. Rob Scallon, Andy Rehfeldt and Leo Moracchioli are three prime examples.

That being said, while there’s plenty of free content to learn the guitar on YouTube, you’re also more likely to run across bad guitar teachers as well. If you’re a novice player, it can be hard to tell the difference. Which is why you should spend some time in the comments of their videos to see if any more experienced players are pointing out issues with their lessons or content.

Fast Fingers of Fun

These modern guitar learning resources are a major step-up from the traditional ways of learning to play the guitar. The old approach would have involved one or two lessons with a teacher each week and hours of self-study by yourself with a book. 

Not only can you now get personalized lessons with feedback, it all happens on your own time and at your own pace. Modern guitar students should make much faster progress using these new tools and platforms. That also means the bar has been raised, with younger players hitting higher levels of mastery more quickly. 

The most important lesson you can learn about the guitar (or any other instrument) is to only compare yourself to, well, yourself. Practice consistently every day, don’t overdo it, and never be afraid to ask dumb questions. In the end, what matters most is playing the music you love and not what anyone else thinks.

source https://www.online-tech-tips.com/cool-websites/5-best-sites-and-apps-to-learn-the-guitar/

Microsoft Teams vs. Zoom: Which Is Better?

With so many video calling software tools now available, two apps have emerged as the leaders of the pack: Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Whether you want to host a business meeting with colleagues or an online holiday party with friends and family, we’ll help you decide which video conference tool to choose by examining the differences between them. 

We’ll discuss ease of use and pricing, and we’ll compare the features offered by Microsoft Teams vs. Zoom. 

Who Are Your Users?

The first step is to consider your audience. If your primary goal is to host business meetings among colleagues at an organization or company that already uses Microsoft products—especially Office365—then the obvious choice for video calls is Microsoft Teams.

You’ll want to use Teams for more than just video conferencing, too. Similar to Slack, Teams is an all-in-one collaboration and communication solution that integrates seamlessly with other Office365 apps like Outlook, OneDrive, and Sharepoint.

If, however, you use Teams at work and your employer frowns upon using work software for personal use, you might want to use Zoom for meetings with friends and family. You could always create a separate personal Microsoft account, but switching between Microsoft profiles can be cumbersome and awkward. Using a different video conferencing tool for personal use solves that problem.

Even if you do use Teams at work, you still might want to use Zoom for meetings with people external to your organization. People like to stick with what they know, and far more people have experience using Zoom than Teams.

A note about ease of installation: Both Teams and Zoom give users the option to join via browser rather than downloading the desktop client. 

Zoom gives meeting attendees similar ways to join.

Joining via browser is the easiest method in both apps, although some features may not be available.

What Will It Cost?

Both Teams and Zoom have free and paid versions. Microsoft offers a number of different pricing tiers for Teams, some of which come with varying degrees of access to other Office365 apps.

The free version of Teams currently allows up to 300 meeting participants and a maximum meeting duration of 60 minutes.

Zoom’s free version allows up to 100 participants, and meetings can last up to 40 minutes.

The cheapest of Teams’ paid plans is $5/month and comes with other Office365 applications, while the cheapest paid Zoom plan will cost you more than twice that. 

How Do the Features Compare?

Predictably, video calls in Teams and Zoom have many of the same features. Whichever app you use, the following features will be included:

  • Meeting scheduling
  • Screen sharing
  • File sharing
  • Chat
  • Virtual backgrounds

That being said, a comparison between Microsoft Teams and Zoom is certainly not apples-to-apples. Teams is a holistic productivity tool and integrates with many other Office365 applications. 

Zoom’s desktop client for video conferencing doesn’t have the same features as Teams, but Zoom does offer a separate app called Zoom Chat that mimics some features found in Teams. With Zoom Chat, you’ll have access to resources such as group channels, status/presence indicators, customizable notifications, and search capability. 

Be warned, though, Zoom meeting invitations do not direct users to download the Zoom Chat app, so many users are unlikely to even know it exists.

Security

After some major security problems in the first and second quarters of 2020 (remember Zoombombing?), Zoom made some changes to their security measures. For the most secure meetings on Zoom, you should enable the waiting room and per-meeting ID. 

Regarding security on Teams, Microsoft says, “Teams enforces team-wide and organization-wide two-factor authentication, single sign-on through Active Directory, and encryption of data in transit and at rest.” 

In any case, Microsoft and Zoom have taken measures to improve the security of meetings on their platforms, and you can trust both apps.

User Interface 

New users may find Teams more complicated to use than Zoom since it is part of Microsoft’s much larger universe of productivity, collaboration, and communication tools. There is an initial learning curve because of the many ways Teams integrates with other Office apps. 

That said, the integrations are intuitive, and their usefulness outweighs the required learning. Moreover, Teams’ video conference controls are straightforward.

The Zoom video conference controls are similarly simple and user-friendly. 

It’s a toss-up between Zoom and Microsoft Teams when it comes to ease of use and UX.

Looking Good

Zoom has a popular feature that Microsoft Teams lacks called Touch up my appearance. It works by evening out skin tone and wrinkles and removes dark circles from under your eyes. 

You can find this feature under Video in Settings in the Zoom app.

You won’t find this feature in Teams, so if it’s important to you, use Zoom.

Chats

If you’re using the Zoom desktop or web clients, Zoom chats can get lost in the shuffle. The chat panel often hides behind other open windows, and the lack of formatting controls is noticeable. 

Teams chat, on the other hand, provides the standard text formatting options, along with emoji, stickers, and gifs.

Audio by Telephone

Anyone can join a Teams or Zoom meeting by telephone. Both apps can provide call-in numbers, and Teams can even make outbound calls. When you’re joining a Teams meeting, you can choose to have Teams call your phone to connect you to the meeting’s audio.

Once in a meeting, the meeting organizer can have Teams call a phone number directly. 

This outbound calling feature is particularly useful with non-technical people (I’m looking at you, Dad). 

Breakout Rooms

Until quite recently, if you needed breakout rooms, Zoom was the clear winner. Teams didn’t offer breakout rooms until December 2020, and they’re still trailing when it comes to breakout room management.

In contrast, Zoom lets you assign attendees to breakout rooms before the meeting starts and automatically close rooms after a predetermined duration. Furthermore, Zoom hosts and co-hosts can pop in and out of breakout rooms at will.

Teams breakout rooms currently offer none of those features, but we’re likely to see them down the road.

Recommendation: Consider Both Microsoft Teams and Zoom

As you can see, Microsoft Teams and Zoom can be useful in different situations. In general, if you are already immersed in the Microsoft universe, stick with Teams. If you are most concerned with ease of use or breakout room controls, then go with Zoom. Ultimately, if neither app appeals to you, then perhaps it’s time to check out Google Meet!

source https://www.online-tech-tips.com/software-reviews/microsoft-teams-vs-zoom-which-is-better/

5 Best Cases for iPhone XR, XS, XS Max

Apple makes some of the most powerful smartphones on the market.

However, the glass design makes Apple handsets some of the least sturdy around. Not to mention that Apple smartphones are also expensive to repair, so it’s always a good idea to protect your prized smartphone with a case. 

There are protective iPhone cases that offer damage protection, others include battery packs to keep your device charged, and still more double as wallets to hold your cash and credit cards.

If you just picked up an iPhone XR, XS, or XS Max, and you’re looking for a shiny new case, we’ve picked out some of the best cases around to keep your phone safe and on-trend.

Best Cases for iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max

1. Totallee Thin iPhone Case (XR/XS/XS Max)

If you’re more worried about scratches and grip than drops, and want a thinner case, the Totallee Thin iPhone case is worth considering. The super thin case adds very little bulk to your iPhone with a good degree of grip.

The Totallee case is made of molded plastic with a distinct design and more precise camera cutout compared to similar cases. It also has a raised lip to protect the camera lens without affecting your photos.

While some thin phone cases tend to fit tightly, making it hard to fit the corners of your iPhone, Totallee’s Thin case is easier to install and snap into place. The main drawback with using thin cases are that they’re more fragile and won’t effectively protect the screen or phone from drop damage.

Totallee Thin case is available for iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max with a two-year replacement warranty. The case also comes in a wide range of colors including frosted red, black, navy blue, soft (glossy) clear, and frosted clear.

2. Smartish Wallet Slayer Vol.1 

The Smartish Wallet Slayer is a reliable case that carries your phone and doubles as a wallet for carrying your cash or cards together.

The case has a protective screen film, and a raised bump, that makes it thicker than a standard protective phone case, though it’s not easily noticeable. In addition, the case doesn’t expose your cards like other similar cases. You can push the cards out easily thanks to the small cutout facing the wallet opening.

If you’re planning to use Qi wireless charging, the Smartish Wallet Slayer case may not be ideal because its thickness may prevent the wireless charging function from working properly on some chargers.

Not only that, but Apple warns about placing things between your iPhone and charger. If your cards have RFID chips or magnetic strips, it’s possible to damage them due to the magnetic-induction technology used for wireless charging.

The case comes in a variety of fun colors including Blues on the Green, Black Tie Affair, and Chef’s Special.

3. Speck Presidio Folio

A folio case may be bulkier, but you get added benefits including extra screen protection, wallet features and still get to take advantage of wireless charging.

The Speck Presidio Folio is a slim, one-piece iPhone case with a polycarbonate shell molded with shock-absorbent Impactium rubber for damage protection during a drop. You can also use it to prop up your phone to watch videos hands-free.

Unlike other folio cases, the Speck Presidio Folio’s cover lies flat, and you can fit up to three cards inside. Handy button overlays are included on the case’s spine so you can adjust the volume without opening the case.

You can get the Speck Presidio Folio case for iPhone XS or XS Max in a variety of vibrant colors such as Heathered Black, Slate/Gunmetal/Graphite Grey, Heartrate Red, Heathered Eclipse Blue, Saddle Brown, Heathered/Veronica/Vintage Purple and more.

Note: The Speck Presidio Folio case for iPhone XR is popular so it might be out of stock often.

4. Quad Lock (XR, XS, XS Max)

Image: best-cases-for-iphone-xr-xs-xs-max-quad-lock

If you want to use your phone for fitness purposes or other activities that require special accessories, the Quad Lock case is a great choice.

The phone case has an exterior made from tough but durable thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) material for edge-to-edge protection. It also keeps your phone’s screen and ports safe from rain, mud, dust, or impact.

The TPU is fully functional with your phone’s touch screen or buttons. Its crystal clear material allows you to view all your apps on the go, and still use touch screen or Face ID.

You can mount your iPhone on anything as the Quad Lock case locks into a variety of accessories including a tripod, armband, mounts, or clips. The port openings are tailored to provide sufficient room for you to plug in your charger and other accessories without exposing the phone’s body.

The Quad Lock case may prevent wireless charging from working on some Qi chargers, but you can fix that by getting a separate wireless charging head. Plus, it only comes in two colors: Black or Clear.

Note: The Quad Lock case for iPhone XS Max is currently unavailable on Amazon, but you can check out other cases on this list.

5. Smartish Kung Fu Grip (XR, XS, XS Max)

The Kung Fu Grip iPhone case by Smartish is the epitome of a great basic case. The slim, plainly designed, one-piece case is made of TPU, a flexible plastic that offers reliable protection from weather elements and impact.

The case covers more of your phone’s important parts than other cases without affecting how you use the handset. Plus, its back panel has a textured but rubbery grip making it feel secure in your hand, properly sized cutouts, and just enough give for easy installation without being too loose.

In addition, the lip around the screen is tall enough for damage protection, and the port openings are well-sized so they don’t expose too much of your iPhone’s steel frame. The buttons also remain clicky despite the clear TPU material.

The Kung Fu Grip case offers a bonus screen-protector film and comes in various colors such as Blues on the Green, Black Tie Affair, Red Rover Red Rover, Nothin’ to Hide (clear) and various printed designs.

A Case of Taste

With so many iPhones on the market today, finding the best cases for your iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max can be daunting. While case preferences are subjective, our five picks take into account utility, protection, and design to help you find the best option in various styles and categories. If you need a quick buy on a stylish case for your Android phone, take a look at our top picks for protective cases for Android.

Do you have a favorite case for iPhone XR, XS, or XS Max? Tell us about it in the comments.

source https://www.online-tech-tips.com/smartphones/5-best-cases-for-iphone-xr-xs-xs-max/

IFTTT Not Working? 8 Ways to Fix

If This, Then That (or IFTTT) is a powerful automation system that allows you to link disparate tasks together. For example, you can link your smart lights and your email together so that your lights flash when an important email comes in–but what do you do if it suddenly stops working?

If your IFTTT tasks malfunction, try one of these methods to correct the issue.

Verify that IFTTT is Online

If IFTTT goes down, so too do the applets. Websites do not often go offline, but it can happen due to a variety of factors: planned maintenance, DDOS attacks, etc. If your IFTTT applets are not working, check that the website is operational by using a service like Downdetector

Once you have checked that IFTTT is online, perform a quick Google search and find out if any other users have the same problem. In many instances, IFTTT integration errors are server-side problems that the end user has no control over. In this situation, your only option is to wait until the client corrects the issue.

For example, if a malfunction occurs at Google, Amazon, or some other service, your IFTTT applets might not work until the problem is corrected, regardless of the methods you try.

Reconnect the IFTTT Applet

If an IFTTT applet malfunctions, the easiest fix is to reconnect the service. The applet verification servers sometimes receive faulty data or a previous command somehow was caught in the command order. 

In other words, glitches happen. To correct this, turn your applet off and back on.

Select the applet you are having trouble with and click Connected. This will disconnect the service. Give it a few seconds for the command to go through, and then click Connect. This process disconnects and reconnects the applet and will correct a huge number of problems.

Check Trigger and Action Fields

Human error is another possibility for why an applet doesn’t trigger. For example, if your trigger phrase is “game mode,” but you think it is “game time,” you will not get the results you want no matter how often you try. 

If a specific applet is not working, check its trigger field and the action field. Verify that both fields are set to perform the tasks you want. You should also ensure the action field controls the right device. If you have multiple devices with similar names, double-check that you have selected the correct one. 

Use the “Check Now” Function

When setting up an applet, you can click the Check now command to force-run the applet. It’s a tool implemented by IFTTT so users can test the functionality of an applet. If you click the command and it shows an error like “Cannot check Applet,” it means that something has gone wrong.

When you receive a message like this, make sure that all other applet settings are correct. If IFTTT cannot test the applet, then the applet will not run when you try to use it either. 

Reset the Device

If you are attempting to control a physical device like a smart home speaker or a smart light, perform a physical reset of the device. You can do this by unplugging the device or by hitting a specific combination of buttons on the device itself. Each smart home device has its own unique reset command, so check the provided instructions to verify exactly how to carry out the task.

Check Your Activity Feed

On the IFTTT website, if you click your user icon and choose Activity, you can view recent activity within your account. This shows when specific applets were turned on, activated, and more. It is a useful tool that allows you to monitor how your applets perform, but it will also show error messages.

These error messages can lend valuable insight into why an applet is not working. IFTTT provides an Error glossary to help you decipher what the error messages mean.

Ensure IFTTT Has the Correct Permissions

When using IFTTT to control settings on your phone, you need to make sure the app has the necessary permissions to perform its tasks. In most cases, IFTTT needs the ability to refresh in the background. You can grant these permissions when setting up the app or later through the Settings menu on your mobile device. 

Contact Support to Resolve Problems

Many errors are outside your control. If you try all of these methods and the problem still hasn’t gone away, contact IFTTT support. Provide a detailed description of the problem and the steps you have taken to correct the issue. 

IFTTT allows for a lot of creativity, but this can also mean potential combinations that have never been tested. If you can’t resolve an error, reach out to IFTTT (or Google, Amazon, etc. support) and ask for assistance.

source https://www.online-tech-tips.com/computer-tips/ifttt-not-working-8-ways-to-fix/

IFTTT Not Working? 8 Ways to Fix

If This, Then That (or IFTTT) is a powerful automation system that allows you to link disparate tasks together. For example, you can link your smart lights and your email together so that your lights flash when an important email comes in–but what do you do if it suddenly stops working?

If your IFTTT tasks malfunction, try one of these methods to correct the issue.

Verify that IFTTT is Online

If IFTTT goes down, so too do the applets. Websites do not often go offline, but it can happen due to a variety of factors: planned maintenance, DDOS attacks, etc. If your IFTTT applets are not working, check that the website is operational by using a service like Downdetector

Once you have checked that IFTTT is online, perform a quick Google search and find out if any other users have the same problem. In many instances, IFTTT integration errors are server-side problems that the end user has no control over. In this situation, your only option is to wait until the client corrects the issue.

For example, if a malfunction occurs at Google, Amazon, or some other service, your IFTTT applets might not work until the problem is corrected, regardless of the methods you try.

Reconnect the IFTTT Applet

If an IFTTT applet malfunctions, the easiest fix is to reconnect the service. The applet verification servers sometimes receive faulty data or a previous command somehow was caught in the command order. 

In other words, glitches happen. To correct this, turn your applet off and back on.

Select the applet you are having trouble with and click Connected. This will disconnect the service. Give it a few seconds for the command to go through, and then click Connect. This process disconnects and reconnects the applet and will correct a huge number of problems.

Check Trigger and Action Fields

Human error is another possibility for why an applet doesn’t trigger. For example, if your trigger phrase is “game mode,” but you think it is “game time,” you will not get the results you want no matter how often you try. 

If a specific applet is not working, check its trigger field and the action field. Verify that both fields are set to perform the tasks you want. You should also ensure the action field controls the right device. If you have multiple devices with similar names, double-check that you have selected the correct one. 

Use the “Check Now” Function

When setting up an applet, you can click the Check now command to force-run the applet. It’s a tool implemented by IFTTT so users can test the functionality of an applet. If you click the command and it shows an error like “Cannot check Applet,” it means that something has gone wrong.

When you receive a message like this, make sure that all other applet settings are correct. If IFTTT cannot test the applet, then the applet will not run when you try to use it either. 

Reset the Device

If you are attempting to control a physical device like a smart home speaker or a smart light, perform a physical reset of the device. You can do this by unplugging the device or by hitting a specific combination of buttons on the device itself. Each smart home device has its own unique reset command, so check the provided instructions to verify exactly how to carry out the task.

Check Your Activity Feed

On the IFTTT website, if you click your user icon and choose Activity, you can view recent activity within your account. This shows when specific applets were turned on, activated, and more. It is a useful tool that allows you to monitor how your applets perform, but it will also show error messages.

These error messages can lend valuable insight into why an applet is not working. IFTTT provides an Error glossary to help you decipher what the error messages mean.

Ensure IFTTT Has the Correct Permissions

When using IFTTT to control settings on your phone, you need to make sure the app has the necessary permissions to perform its tasks. In most cases, IFTTT needs the ability to refresh in the background. You can grant these permissions when setting up the app or later through the Settings menu on your mobile device. 

Contact Support to Resolve Problems

Many errors are outside your control. If you try all of these methods and the problem still hasn’t gone away, contact IFTTT support. Provide a detailed description of the problem and the steps you have taken to correct the issue. 

IFTTT allows for a lot of creativity, but this can also mean potential combinations that have never been tested. If you can’t resolve an error, reach out to IFTTT (or Google, Amazon, etc. support) and ask for assistance.

source https://www.online-tech-tips.com/computer-tips/ifttt-not-working-8-ways-to-fix/

7 Best Android Reminder Apps

With so much to do and the many distractions around us these days, it is tough to keep track of every task that needs to get done.

Fortunately, technology has made it easier for us to remember the important things we need to do thanks to reminder apps. Most Android phones come with their own reminder apps, some built into the Calendar, but those are still pretty barebones when stacked against the competition.

Whether it’s some household chores or an urgent assignment you need to complete on time, you can set up a reminder for it on your Android device and stay on track.

Here’s a roundup of the best Android reminder apps that you’ll find incredibly useful.

Best Android Reminder Apps

1. BZ Reminder (Free, In-app purchases)

BZ Reminder (formerly Bzzz) is a simple reminder app with a robust list of features. The app helps you remember everything you want to do and improve your productivity.

Besides color coding for easier organization of your tasks, BZ Reminder has features such as alerts, customizable widgets, hourly reminders for things like stretching or drinking water, recurring tasks, birthdays, and notes.

The app comes with support for Android Wear meaning you can use it with a compatible smart watch and receive reminders without taking your phone out of your pocket. You can also create reminders with voice recognition, and then snooze or complete the reminder from your smartwatch.

A simple calendar is included, which allows you to add birthdays or anniversaries, or import special dates from contacts and sync them so they never get lost.

2. Calendar Notify (Free, In-app purchases)

Calendar Notify is a calendar and reminder app that helps you manage your day effortlessly. The app syncs to Google Calendar and displays a quick view of your schedule and agenda so you know what’s next, get more done, and never forget anything.

In addition, you get designer editing tools to apply new designs over your agenda and have full control over the information displayed. Simple filtering options allow you to see events you’re interested in with one glance. For instance, you can distinguish using different event colors.

The Android reminder app also has advanced customization options for your notifications, widgets, and dynamic time settings. If you don’t want to open the reminders screen, you can view upcoming schedule events on the lock screen, in a widget, or on the status bar.

3. Galarm (Free, In-app purchases)

If you’re planning activities for you and others, Galarm ensures you’re all on the same page.

The Android reminder app has alarms, time intervals, notifications, and you can even create reminders for groups. One of its neat features is the text chat, where you or anyone in the group can inform others about a schedule.

Galarm can be used for personal or work reminders to remind colleagues of work timelines. If you don’t want to be bothered by others all the time, you can block a user and you won’t receive any alarms from them.

The app offers unlimited cloud storage, and innovative features including a variety of ringtones, a comprehensive set of repetitions, and buddy alarms to remind your friends of things they need to do.

Galarm works with your phone number, integrates with your phonebook, and is free to download. However, you can only create a limited number of reminders with the free version, but you can upgrade to the premium version and get rid of the limit.

4. TickTick (Free, In-app purchases)

TickTick is an all-in-one app comprising a calendar, to-do list, reminders, recurring tasks, customization options and widgets. If you want to focus on your tasks and get in-depth insights on the tasks you complete, TickTick is the best reminder app for that.

Not only does the app let you create reminders, but it also allows you to sync between devices, collaborate with other TickTick users, and use it for personal or work tasks.

You can attach a date and time to each task, set reminders, or scan through the task’s description to set the reminder automatically. You can also organize tasks based on their date, priority, and title. 

The Pro version offers additional features such as visual themes and calendar-view widgets.

5. Ike (Free, In-app purchases)

If you’ve used a to-do list or task management app before, you’ll find Ike easy to work with. The app uses time-based reminders that are easy to organize based on urgency or importance.

You can track your goals and objectives for each day, week, or month and get an idea of what’s happening in your life. In addition, there are charts that show you the number of tasks you’ve completed along with their importance levels.

If you want to separate your personal reminders and work, you can organize your tasks into multiple inboxes. You can also add images, notes, audio, and other customization features to your reminders.

You can download Ike for free, or get the premium version with additional features including location-based reminders, all themes, and widgets.

6. Reminder with Alarm (Free, In-app purchases)

Reminder with Alarm is a simple, intuitive reminder hub that’s easy to navigate so you can never miss a thing. The app has multiple themes for you to choose from, and you can set up, organize and categorize your reminders at any time interval.

A set of widgets is included to help you manage everything, and you can switch your reminders between alarms and notifications in order of priority. Other useful features include recurring reminders, reminder/task markers, speech recognition support, tablet support, and a Do Not Disturb mode.

Unlike other Android reminder apps, the Reminder with Alarm doesn’t offer cloud syncing so you may have to use an external storage when switching devices.

The free version of the app comes with ads, but you can upgrade to the Reminder Pro version for an ad-free experience.

7. Samsung Reminder App/Bixby Reminder

If you have a Samsung device, it’s quick and easy to make reminders using the native Android Reminder app.

With the Samsung Reminder app, you can create memos, checklists, or other reminders and get alerts at a specific location or time to remind you about them.

The app is hidden on most Samsung devices but can be accessed through a handy shortcut in the Calendar app. This gives you greater control over how you personalize your Samsung phone or tablet.

To access the Samsung Reminder app, tap Calendar > Menu > Reminder. This will take you to the reminder app and add a shortcut to your app screen.

Alternative: Bixby Reminder App

If you have a Galaxy S9/S9+/Note8/S8/S8+ or a Samsung smartphone with Android 8.0 or above, you can access the Bixby Reminder app. 

Bixby helps you set up smart reminders so you can remember every little thing and get notified when and where you need to. You can even add links, emails, videos, photos, and websites to your reminders.

Note: You can disable the dedicated Bixby hardware button if you want to. 

Remember Every Little Thing

In a world filled with distractions, we all need little reminders to do things. There are plenty of reminder apps available today, but these 7 are not only productive, but will serve up your reminders when you need them.

Did your favorite Android reminder app make the list? If not, tell us about it in the comments.

source https://www.online-tech-tips.com/software-reviews/7-best-android-reminder-apps/

7 Best Android Reminder Apps

With so much to do and the many distractions around us these days, it is tough to keep track of every task that needs to get done.

Fortunately, technology has made it easier for us to remember the important things we need to do thanks to reminder apps. Most Android phones come with their own reminder apps, some built into the Calendar, but those are still pretty barebones when stacked against the competition.

Whether it’s some household chores or an urgent assignment you need to complete on time, you can set up a reminder for it on your Android device and stay on track.

Here’s a roundup of the best Android reminder apps that you’ll find incredibly useful.

Best Android Reminder Apps

1. BZ Reminder (Free, In-app purchases)

BZ Reminder (formerly Bzzz) is a simple reminder app with a robust list of features. The app helps you remember everything you want to do and improve your productivity.

Besides color coding for easier organization of your tasks, BZ Reminder has features such as alerts, customizable widgets, hourly reminders for things like stretching or drinking water, recurring tasks, birthdays, and notes.

The app comes with support for Android Wear meaning you can use it with a compatible smart watch and receive reminders without taking your phone out of your pocket. You can also create reminders with voice recognition, and then snooze or complete the reminder from your smartwatch.

A simple calendar is included, which allows you to add birthdays or anniversaries, or import special dates from contacts and sync them so they never get lost.

2. Calendar Notify (Free, In-app purchases)

Calendar Notify is a calendar and reminder app that helps you manage your day effortlessly. The app syncs to Google Calendar and displays a quick view of your schedule and agenda so you know what’s next, get more done, and never forget anything.

In addition, you get designer editing tools to apply new designs over your agenda and have full control over the information displayed. Simple filtering options allow you to see events you’re interested in with one glance. For instance, you can distinguish using different event colors.

The Android reminder app also has advanced customization options for your notifications, widgets, and dynamic time settings. If you don’t want to open the reminders screen, you can view upcoming schedule events on the lock screen, in a widget, or on the status bar.

3. Galarm (Free, In-app purchases)

If you’re planning activities for you and others, Galarm ensures you’re all on the same page.

The Android reminder app has alarms, time intervals, notifications, and you can even create reminders for groups. One of its neat features is the text chat, where you or anyone in the group can inform others about a schedule.

Galarm can be used for personal or work reminders to remind colleagues of work timelines. If you don’t want to be bothered by others all the time, you can block a user and you won’t receive any alarms from them.

The app offers unlimited cloud storage, and innovative features including a variety of ringtones, a comprehensive set of repetitions, and buddy alarms to remind your friends of things they need to do.

Galarm works with your phone number, integrates with your phonebook, and is free to download. However, you can only create a limited number of reminders with the free version, but you can upgrade to the premium version and get rid of the limit.

4. TickTick (Free, In-app purchases)

TickTick is an all-in-one app comprising a calendar, to-do list, reminders, recurring tasks, customization options and widgets. If you want to focus on your tasks and get in-depth insights on the tasks you complete, TickTick is the best reminder app for that.

Not only does the app let you create reminders, but it also allows you to sync between devices, collaborate with other TickTick users, and use it for personal or work tasks.

You can attach a date and time to each task, set reminders, or scan through the task’s description to set the reminder automatically. You can also organize tasks based on their date, priority, and title. 

The Pro version offers additional features such as visual themes and calendar-view widgets.

5. Ike (Free, In-app purchases)

If you’ve used a to-do list or task management app before, you’ll find Ike easy to work with. The app uses time-based reminders that are easy to organize based on urgency or importance.

You can track your goals and objectives for each day, week, or month and get an idea of what’s happening in your life. In addition, there are charts that show you the number of tasks you’ve completed along with their importance levels.

If you want to separate your personal reminders and work, you can organize your tasks into multiple inboxes. You can also add images, notes, audio, and other customization features to your reminders.

You can download Ike for free, or get the premium version with additional features including location-based reminders, all themes, and widgets.

6. Reminder with Alarm (Free, In-app purchases)

Reminder with Alarm is a simple, intuitive reminder hub that’s easy to navigate so you can never miss a thing. The app has multiple themes for you to choose from, and you can set up, organize and categorize your reminders at any time interval.

A set of widgets is included to help you manage everything, and you can switch your reminders between alarms and notifications in order of priority. Other useful features include recurring reminders, reminder/task markers, speech recognition support, tablet support, and a Do Not Disturb mode.

Unlike other Android reminder apps, the Reminder with Alarm doesn’t offer cloud syncing so you may have to use an external storage when switching devices.

The free version of the app comes with ads, but you can upgrade to the Reminder Pro version for an ad-free experience.

7. Samsung Reminder App/Bixby Reminder

If you have a Samsung device, it’s quick and easy to make reminders using the native Android Reminder app.

With the Samsung Reminder app, you can create memos, checklists, or other reminders and get alerts at a specific location or time to remind you about them.

The app is hidden on most Samsung devices but can be accessed through a handy shortcut in the Calendar app. This gives you greater control over how you personalize your Samsung phone or tablet.

To access the Samsung Reminder app, tap Calendar > Menu > Reminder. This will take you to the reminder app and add a shortcut to your app screen.

Alternative: Bixby Reminder App

If you have a Galaxy S9/S9+/Note8/S8/S8+ or a Samsung smartphone with Android 8.0 or above, you can access the Bixby Reminder app. 

Bixby helps you set up smart reminders so you can remember every little thing and get notified when and where you need to. You can even add links, emails, videos, photos, and websites to your reminders.

Note: You can disable the dedicated Bixby hardware button if you want to. 

Remember Every Little Thing

In a world filled with distractions, we all need little reminders to do things. There are plenty of reminder apps available today, but these 7 are not only productive, but will serve up your reminders when you need them.

Did your favorite Android reminder app make the list? If not, tell us about it in the comments.

source https://www.online-tech-tips.com/software-reviews/7-best-android-reminder-apps/

Everything You Need to Know About PS5 External Storage

The PlayStation 5 is one of the hottest items this year. Millions of PlayStation fans have now received their big and chunky next-gen consoles. This also means having to learn the quirks that come with the next generation. When it comes to the PS5, there are a few hard rules about external PS5 storage you should know. 

Whether you already have a PS5 or are still waiting to get one, here’s the complete explanation of how external storage does (or doesn’t) work on the PlayStation 5.

The Internal PS5 Storage Problem

There’s no way around it, the PS5 is rather short on internal storage. The SSD (Solid State Drive) inside your PS5 has a total of 825GB of capacity. However, once you deduct the system software and its reserved space, there’s a mere 667GB left for users to install games on, store their data, and keep screenshots and video clips.

Consider that typical game sizes for big-ticket titles usually range between 50GB to 100GB. That’s only between six and twelve games total before you completely run out of space. With the PlayStation 4 this wasn’t the end of the world. You could easily replace the internal drive with something bigger or simply connect a USB drive, install your games there and play them as usual.

With the PlayStation 5 neither of these options are possible. Here are three limitations you should keep in mind:

  1. The PS5 SSD isn’t removable or replaceable. 
  2. You cannot play PS5 games from an external USB drive either. This means that the absolute limit for PS5 games right now is 667GB and not a byte more.
  3. You cannot use these external hard drives to store any PS5 games.

What About the PS5 Expansion Slot?

The PS5 has an expansion slot that accepts an NVME SSD card. This is an expansion for internal PS5 storage. You can play PS5 games from an SSD in this expansion slot and you can put in an SSD of whatever size your budget allows. 

However, at the time of writing this expansion slot is disabled. If you try to put an NVME card into the slot right now, the PS5 will refuse to start up until you remove it. Sony will enable the slot in a future firmware update. 

It’s also important to know that only specific drives that have been whitelisted by Sony will work. Which means you should not buy any NVME drive until the list of approved drives is released.

USB Drives That Work With the PS5

Almost all USB drives will work with the PS5. That includes both mechanical USB hard drives and USB SSDs. Once again, even if you use a SATA or NVME SSD through the USB interface, you won’t be able to run PS5 games from it. The USB interface itself is too slow compared to the internal SSD.

There is one major exception when it comes to USB drives and the PS5. Any USB drive with an integrated hub is unlikely to work. We tested the Seagate Backup Plus Hub 8TB with our PS5 and it was rejected. 

As far as we can tell, the reason for this is that the drive is wired through the hub internally, so the PS5 sees the hub between itself and the drive. The PS4 and PS5 consoles both require a direct connection to the drive or it won’t work.

The simple rule of thumb here is that any USB drive that works with a PS4, should work with the PS5. In fact, you can freely use the same drive with the same games between consoles. 

In other words, if you disconnect a USB drive with games from a PS4 and connect it to a PS5, it will work immediately. Assuming that the games on the drive belong to the same account that’s logged in on the PS5 console.

The One Drive Limit

Another important limitation PS5 users should know about is that only one USB drive can be in use at the same time. Even if they are all connected directly, without a hub. We suspect that some people will want to run a small USB SSD and a large USB mechanical drive side-by-side on their PS5s.

Sadly that is not possible at the moment, but it’s fairly simple to swap between drives by using the option to safely remove the external drive and then connecting a new one.

Games That Can Be Moved to External Storage

As mentioned above, PS5 games can only be played from the internal SSD at this moment. Sadly, you can’t move PS5 games to an external USB drive to play them. You also can’t move them to an external drive for storage. 

This is something that you can do on the Xbox Series Consoles. Which means you can store your next-generation games and then reinstall them without having to download the whole game again.

Sony has said that this is a feature they are looking into. As it stands, your only option to free up space for PS5 games is to delete and redownload them. Unless of course you buy your games on disc, in which case you can reinstall them from there and download any patches if you wish.

PS4 games can be moved between USB and internal storage as much as you like, but why would you want to use that precious internal SSD space for PS4 games? Actually, there’s a good reason.

Running PS4 Games on the Internal SSD, External SSD and External Mechanical Drive

PS5 games are designed to get as much from the internal SSD’s performance as possible. With these games you can expect few if any load screens and almost instantaneous loading. Because PS4 games were not designed for this fast drive, you won’t see similar performance. However, in certain games it can still make a huge difference.

For example, we tested Assassin’s Creed Origins on our external 5TB mechanical drive and the initial game load took minutes. Moving the game to the internal SSD reduced that load time to just a few seconds. 

In open world titles such as these, the internal SSD can have a substantial effect. Other games don’t benefit as much, but we encourage you to experiment to see which of your PS4 games benefit most.

The optimal solution is to use an external USB SSD for PS4 games that do benefit from SSD speeds, but these drives are pretty expensive and most people will likely settle on a 500GB or 1TB drive. So you’re trading raw capacity for speed. 

The best compromise, as mentioned above, is to swap between a USB SSD and mechanical drive on a per-game basis.

PS5 Storage Is a Work-in-progress

The storage situation on the PS5 right now is less than ideal. However, using the information above you should have what you need to craft a workable solution. When Sony releases its whitelist of approved drives or changes the rules of PS5 external storage, we’ll revisit this topic and update the information. 

Until then, the squeeze for PS5 game storage will stay a little tight, but that shouldn’t get in the way of your fun.

source https://www.online-tech-tips.com/gaming/everything-you-need-to-know-about-ps5-external-storage/

How to Add Shapes in Google Docs

While Google Docs isn’t really built for drawing, there are options for users who are looking to add shapes to their documents. Most users will use Google Drawings within a Google Docs document to do this, but you can also insert images, use basic tables, and use special characters to add shapes within the text.

If you want to know how to add shapes in Google Docs using these methods, here’s what you’ll need to do.

Inserting Shapes Using Google Drawings

The best way to add shapes in Google Docs (and the only Google-suggested way) is to use the Google Drawings tool. While Google Drawings is a service in its own right, you can access it directly from Google Docs without leaving your document page.

Google Drawings isn’t a Photoshop replacement by any means, so don’t expect to create complex images using it. What it will do, however, is allow you to create, edit, and manipulate basic shapes and diagrams. A drawing can contain a single shape or, if you want to group several shapes together, you can insert multiple shapes.

  1. To create a new drawing, open your Google Docs document. From the menu, select Insert > Drawing > New. If you have an existing drawing containing shapes that you wish to insert, select From Drive instead.
  1. If you choose to create a new drawing, a pop-up Google Drawings window will appear. From the menu bar, select the Shapes option.
  1. The Shapes drop-down menu has various sub-menus, including shapes (for basic shapes), arrows (for arrow shapes), call outs (for chat bubbles), and equations (for mathematical symbols). Select the shape you want to add first, then use your mouse or trackpad to draw the shape to the size you want in the Drawing window. 
  1. Once you’ve added a shape, you can format it by changing its color, transparency, border sizing, and more. Select the formatting options you wish to apply from the menu, then select the Save and close button to insert the shape into your document once you’re done.
  1. The drawing will appear on the document page. You can move and resize it at will, but if you need to edit it, double-click the shape, or select it, then select the Edit button.

Adding Shapes in Google Docs Using Images

If you want to create more creative shapes and images, create them in a photo editor like Photoshop or GIMP and upload them to your document as an image. You can also find and insert shapes using the built-in Google search tool.

  1. To upload an image, open your Google Docs document and select Insert > Image > Upload from computer to begin the process. If you want to use Google search to find an image, select Search the web instead.
  1. If you choose to upload an image, use the Mac Finder or Windows File Explorer pop-up window to find and upload it. Google Docs will insert the image as soon as it’s uploaded. If you choose to search for an image containing shapes, use the search bar in the right-hand menu to do so. Once you’ve located the image, select it, then select the Insert button at the bottom to place it in your document.
  1. One you’ve inserted an image, you can resize it in the document directly. You can also make further changes (for instance, adding transparency or a border) by right-clicking the image and selecting the Image options option. This will open a menu on the right with various image editing options.

Using Special Characters to Add Shapes to Text

Text wrapping will allow you to insert images and shapes around text. If you want to add shapes in Google Docs to the text directly, the best way to do so is to use special characters. This allows you to insert shape-like objects into the text. You can format these like standard text, with color, font, sizing, and more.

  1. To insert special characters, open your Google Docs document and select Insert > Special Characters.
  1. In the pop-up Insert special characters window, search through the list of characters to find shapes you want. Alternatively, use the search bar to locate particular shapes instead (for instance, square for characters with square shapes), or use the drawing tool beneath it to draw and search for shapes manually.
  1. Hover over any of the special characters to see a larger preview and description. To insert a special character, select it from the list on the left. This will insert it into your document. Selecting the character once will insert it once, but you can select it repeatedly to add further characters.
  1. Once the special character (or characters) are in place, you can use the text formatting options to make changes. Select the special character using your mouse, then use the formatting bar menu to change its font, font size, emphasis, color, and more.

Using Tables to Insert Basic Square Shapes

The methods above exhaust most of the obvious ways a user can insert shapes into Google Docs. There is another other way, however, that you can insert a very simple shape into Google Docs. Not only can be it formatted with color and custom borders, it can also have text inserted into it directly.

The way to do this is by inserting a basic table. While a table can only take the form of a square or a rectangle, it does offer advantages over other forms of shapes. For instance, if you want to add easily-edited text inside a shape, creating a table is the best way to do it.

  1. To insert a table, select Insert > Table, then select the size you want from the pop-up menu. If you want the table to fill the page horizontally, select a 1×1 size. If you want it to be smaller, but still allow you to add text either size of it, choose a larger size (for instance, 2×2 or 3×3). You can then hide the other table segments afterwards.
  1. If you’ve created a 1×1 table, you can resize and manipulate it at this point. For instance, if you want to change the background color, select the Background color tool on the toolbar. You can also resize it by dragging a border left or right using your mouse or trackpad.
  1. If you’ve created a 2×1 or larger table, you can also hide other segments either side of the segment you wish to use. This allows you to insert text to the left or right of the table (using the hidden segments as text boxes), as well as create padding that moves the visible segment into another position on your page.

    To do this, select one of the border lines you wish to erase using your mouse (or highlight the entire segment). From the toolbar, select the Border width option, then choose 0pt from the menu. Alternatively, select the Border color option, choosing White from the menu.

  1. Repeat this step for each border line you wish to hide. Once hidden, the table segment you wish to leave in place will appear in position. You can make further changes by adding text, color, and additional formatting options.

Creating Better Documents with Google Docs

Once you know how to add shapes in Google Docs, you can begin to create documents that use all kinds of content. Images, drawings, even tables can be used  to bring attention to other parts of your content. 

There are plenty of similarities between Word and Google Docs so, if you’re used to Office, you shouldn’t find it too hard to get to grips with document creation in Google Docs. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can use features like column splitting to create different styles of documents, from brochures to leaflets.

source https://www.online-tech-tips.com/google-softwaretips/how-to-add-shapes-in-google-docs/

How to Automate Lights (Both Smart and Non-Smart)

Smart lights are one of the most useful smart home devices on the market today. They provide a wide variety of options to use to automate lights inside and outside of your home.

In this article, we’ll cover how to do this by using either actual smart bulb solutions, or by using other smart home devices to control your existing light bulbs.

Options to Automate Lights in Your Home

You can control lights throughout your home with your smartphone in different ways. If you don’t want to replace every light bulb, you can just replace strategically located switches and plugs. Or, if you want more advanced features like colors or dimming, look into smart bulb options.

Here are all of the options you have to choose from:

  • Replace wall switches with smart switches.
  • Plug smart plugs into existing outlets.
  • Replace existing light bulbs with smart bulbs.

Each of these have pros and cons, and the options you choose can change the overall cost significantly if you don’t plan wisely.

Smart System Compatibility

When you start building your smart home, you’ll need to decide which smart home ecosystem you want to base your system on. 

While the smart home industry isn’t quite the Wild West that it used to be, there isn’t one central device you can use to control all other devices. But there are a few common devices – called “smart home hubs” – that attempt to do so.

  • ZigBee: Connects to your smart devices via an IEEE 802.15.4 personal-area network.
  • Z-Wave: A mesh network that talks to smart devices via low-energy radio waves.
  • Lutron: Connects to Lutron smart lights via Clear Connect RF technology.
  • Philips: Uses ZigBee 802.15.4 network technology to connect to Philips smart bulbs.

There are two areas of compatibility you need to consider: which light bulbs, switches, or plugs the hub will talk to, and what smart home controllers it’ll work with like Alexa, Apple HomeKit, or Google Home.

Replace Wall Switches With Smart Switches

If you want to automate all of the lights in each room with your smartphone, the best way to do this is by replacing your standard wall light switches with smart switches instead.

There are a few varieties of these. If you want to install several of these switches in various rooms, you should choose some that are compatible with the ZigBee or Z-Wave smart hubs. A Lutron smart hub with Lutron switches is another option.

GE Zigbee Smart Dimmer

There aren’t a lot of Zigbee hub-compatible switches on the market, but it should be no surprise the GE offers one that works with Alexa. GE has been creating many smart home devices that continue to top most smart home review lists.

Install the GE Zigbee Smart dimmer in multiple rooms of your house and then connect them to any Zigbee compatible hub like SmartThings, Wink, or most smart hubs offered by major cable companies.

The dimming feature only works with dimmable bulbs, but you can also use the switch to turn lights on or off as well. 

Purchase GE Zigbee Smart Dimmer for $32 to $43 depending on style.

GE Z-Wave Smart Dimmer

GE also offers one of the best smart switches compatible with Z-Wave smart hubs like ADT hubs, Honeywell, Nexia, Vivint, and more. It also acts as an extender by extending the wireless signal from the Z-Wave hub. Meaning you can place switches throughout your house beyond the 150 foot distance limitation of the Z-Wave hub itself.

The GE Z-Wave Smart Switch is compatible with both Alexa and Google Home. It works with any standard room lights by controlling them through the same wiring used by your original light switches.

Purchase GE Z-Wave Smart Switch for $40. If you prefer a smart dimmer, then go with the GE Enbrighten Z-Wave Smart Dimmer for $35.

Wi-Fi Smart Switches

If you only have one or two rooms that you want to control, then you might consider just going with a Wi-Fi connected smart switch. These switches don’t require any smart hub. They instead connect directly to your Wi-Fi network so you can control them to your Wi-Fi connected smartphone.

The following are 5 of the most popular Wi-Fi smart switches on the market.

Replace Bulbs With Smart Bulbs

If you only wish to turn your home lighting into smart home lighting, and aren’t interested in adding a family of different products, then dedicated smart home bulbs might be a better option.

This is especially true if there are only one or two rooms you care about, so that the number of smart bulbs you need are limited. Another advantage of this approach is that you don’t have to do any electrical wiring work to automate lights. You just change out the light bulbs, and you’re done.

Philips Hue Smart Bulb Starter Kit

The Philips Hue starter kit (either colored or white lights) comes with the Philips Hue hub and a set of four bulbs. The bulbs communicate with the hub via Zigbee communication protocol. Plug the hub itself directly into the router and you can control all of the lights via a smartphone app

By using the app you can set various color schemes, dim the lights, or even automate the lights to match movies or games that you’re watching on a television in the same room.

As you expand the Philips Hue smart light system, you can install the bulbs into any room of the house. You can assign the lights to any room and control them all via the hub. You can also control the lights via Alexa or Google Home.

Purchase the Philips Hue smart light starter kit for about $200.

C by GE Smart Lights Starter Kit

If you really don’t want to dish out a few hundred dollars to get started with smart lights in your home, GE offers an affordable solution with the C by GE smart lights starter kit

This solution uses an innovative plug that you can use to control a lamp or any other device, and it also serves as a Wi-Fi bridge for controlling the light bulbs as well. Use Alexa or Google Home to control the bulbs and the plug. It even has integrated voice control as well.

Buy the C by GE smart lights kit with 2 bulbs for $35 or 4 bulbs for $55. 

Using Smart Plugs to Automate Lights

One of the simplest ways to automate lights in your house is to just plug lamps in each room into a smart plug. Then use your phone to control all of those lamps from a single app.

The following are the most popular smart plugs you can use to do this.

  • TP-Link Kasa ($23): Works with Wi-Fi, and no hub required. Works with Alexa and Google Home.
  • Belkin WeMo ($59): Connect to Wi-Fi and turn on or off with the WeMo app or using Alexa.
  • D-Link Outdoor Plug ($50): Control your outdoor lights or other devices with this 2 outlet outdoor smart plug. Works with Alexa or Google Home.
  • Amazon Smart Plug ($25): Affordable Amazon smart plug that works via Wi-Fi and integrates with your Alexa device. 

Automate Lights Inside and Outside Your Home

There are plenty of solutions for controlling nearly all lights around and inside your home using your smartphone or your smart home controllers like Alexa or Google Home. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune either.

If you want to convert your entire home, you can do so more affordably by buying a hub and adding compatible smart bulbs over time. Or, you could simply use Wi-Fi enabled devices and change out your bulbs into smart bulbs just one room at a time.

The option you choose just depends on how quickly you want to automate your home lighting and how much you’re willing to spend.

source https://www.online-tech-tips.com/smart-home/how-to-automate-lights-both-smart-and-non-smart/